|Release Date: April 9, 2013|
|Record Label: Fueled by Ramen|
Paramore has released their self-titled fourth studio album via the Fueled by Ramen label, marking the band’s first album release since the Farro brothers left the group in late 2010. “Paramore” was produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen and mixed by Ken Andrews.
Growth is a crucial trait for any artist. An artist may choose to evolve slowly over time, or (if they are able) continuously experiment and push boundaries. There is an enormous chasm between creative growth and random experimentation; think Queen vs. Spinal Tap Mark 2. Unfortunately what Hayley Williams and Paramore present on this release is closer to “Jazz Odyssey.”
The album opens with “Fast in My Car,” a border-line dance pop track, then moves into “Now” with overly fuzzed out guitars. “Ain’t It Fun” has a late 80’s R&B sound and “Part II” sounds like Björk. “Hate to See Your Heart Break” is not so subtly lifted from Ingrid Michaelson’s “The way I am.” “(One of Those) Crazy Girls” has a hipster Girl in a Coma vibe and then the album closes with a lengthy instrumental piece complete with a fade out/in à la “Strawberry Fields Forever.” To leave no genre unturned, they even threw in a few brief Americana “Interlude” tracks (strangely the best songs on the album).
Lyrically there’s a lot of focus in the band’s bio about how “positive” the album is. However there’s some venom too on the Taylor Swift-esque “Grow Up” and “Anklebiters.” Williams’ wordsmithing is relatively on par with what she’s done in the past but with a slightly more narcissistic tone.
So what’s the point of “Paramore”? To prove the band can carry on without the Farro brothers? To hit as many radio formats as possible? To highlight Williams’ versatility as a singer? Williams has already proven herself to be a great vocalist and strong front to the band, so why didn’t she just go solo rather than allow the sound of the band to get derailed? Time will tell.
While the sound of this album is all over the map, the production, performances, and writing on this album is generally okay. Nothing stands out as being terrible, but nothing stands out as being particularly very good either, and that’s the distressing part. The group’s compass is broken, and the lack of direction and focus has resulted is an aimless release. They should have named it “Interlude” because the whole albuum seems like a segue into the next thing.
- “Fast in My Car”
- “Grow Up”
- “Interlude: Moving On”
- “Ain’t It Fun”
- “Part II”
- “Last Hope”
- “Still into You”
- “Interlude: Holiday”
- “Hate to See Your Heart Break”
- “(One of Those) Crazy Girls”
- “Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore”
- “Be Alone”